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Highland Heroes: Vote for your School of the Year

By Leah Williamson

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Three schools are in the running to land the prize.
Three schools are in the running to land the prize.

Ness Castle Primary School

STARTING in a new school can be daunting enough but actually starting a new school is quite the challenge!

But despite just opening its doors in August last year, Ness Castle Primary School, Inverness, has already become a huge part of its growing community.

Currently located in buildings and cabins at Holm Primary School – it is due to move into brand new premises at the end of February – Ness Castle has developed that all-important sense of community and belonging among pupils, teachers, staff and parents.

The new school was created to accommodate the fast-growing Ness Castle and Ness-Side areas of Inverness.

Head teacher, Craig Connon, who came into post in January last year, said: “Since opening, one of our main priorities has been to start building that new community even though we are not in our new building yet. We’ve tried to get that sense of community within our school, not just among children but the parents and families, from nursery up to Primary 6.

“We are unique in that sense, nothing’s come before us, but the children have been involved in every step of the way in really building that community, from picking the uniform colours to designing the badge to the families working together and pulling together to get started.”

One nomination praised the efforts of staff to help create that sense of community and working hard for their pupils and families.

Mr Connon was delighted the school has been shortlisted for a Heroes award: We’re over the moon, chuffed to bits and shocked! We are brand new and we are really proud of our school.”

Vote here

Muirtown Primary School

MUIRTOWN Primary School, Inverness has been praised for its staff dedication and the excellent learning opportunities, particularly in relation to digital skills and safety.

Head teacher, Janice MacRae, said: “The last year has been phenomenal. We’ve achieved our Digital Schools Scotland award, been made a mentor school for Scotland supporting schools with their digital learning, achieved a digital wellbeing award, a cyber resilience and safety award, and we’ve done a lot of work promoting safety online. Our nursery achieved a ‘very good’ inspection report and we gained our Silver Rights Respecting Schools Award.

“One of our teachers achieved the digital innovator of the year award which recognises the digital achievements of the whole school, and we are now Silver Pearson UK Teaching Award winners for digital innovation.”

There were also successes for the shinty team and STEM team and the school maintained its Mentally Healthy School status.

A nomination said: “Muirtown are a team who work together with passion to ensure that the school is the absolute best it can be and they deserve to be recognised for their incredible efforts.”

The school was also praised for giving its youngsters a voice through its pupil leadership groups, where every child from P1 to P7 is a member. The focus ranges from mental health to equality and diversity, and more.

Ms MacRae added: “We’re over the moon. We’ve got a fantastic team here and it’s lovely to have their efforts recognised like this.

“We truly are a team. Teamwork is one of our core values and we endeavour to work together as a team to do the best for all our children.”

Vote here

Noss Primary School

NEW head teacher at Noss Primary School, Wick, Fraser Thomson, had only been in the role for a few weeks when it became clear that this school was a very special place for both pupils, their families, staff and the wider community.

“It’s very clear to see there is an excellent team ethos in the school and that everybody works for one another to ensure the best outcomes, not just for our kids, but families also,” said Mr Thomson.

A nomination praised the teachers and the entire support staff for helping to create a fantastic educational and social environment for pupils, and the efforts to bring pupils together from different parts of the school.

It said: “All the staff within Noss work together, creating a wonderful learning environment for our children. The cooks create beautiful displays in the canteen that relate to pupils’ current projects; PSAs work seamlessly with teachers to provide the best support for the pupils in their care; the janitor goes above and beyond to help staff, pupils and families. They are uplifting, inspiring, and the very tonic needed post pandemic. They all have a great ‘can-do’ attitude, and are very deserving of recognition for their work ethic and bringing happiness to the pupils while educating them!”

Mr Thomson added: “I’ve only been in post for a short amount of time so for the school to be shortlisted for an award is absolutely fantastic.”

Vote here

Words from the category sponsor: RSE customer and stakeholder manager, Jill Joiner, said: “RSE are supporting the Highland Heroes 2023 campaign as the school of the year award sponsor. We believe it is important to take the opportunity to recognise the heroes within our own communities and the excellent work that they do.

“We are delighted to be highlighting the fantastic work of Highland schools by sponsoring this award, as they facilitate the education and development of young people in the local area.”

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